It’s Valentine’s Day and that means we get some good old-fashioned chick flicks to satisfy those who want a little bit of romance in their cinematic choices. There are three new date-friendly movies this weekend. The first is Kevin Hart’s remake of “About Last Night.” (not screened). Also, a remake of “Endless Love,” which I avoided like the plague. And lastly, the only movie that isn’t a remake, Winter’s Tale. The previous movies may appeal to the ladies and hopefully earn the men some brownie points.
Oh, and for those guys that don’t care about Valentine’s Day, there’s Robocop.
Colin Farrell plays Peter Lake, an orphaned criminal living in 1915 in New York. While attempting to steal from a large estate, he happens upon Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay/aka Sybil from Downton Abbey). During their first meeting, they quickly become star-crossed lovers. Meanwhile, Peter is consistently being hunted down by Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe) and his gang. Everything seems normal until Peter climbs atop a mysterious white horse to escape from whatever punishment Pearly has in store for him. It’s at this point, when the horse starts FLYING that you really have to reconsider what movie you are watching.
Once Winter’s Tale takes a dip into the supernatural, there is no going back. Russell Crowe’s character is actually a demon that desperately wants to stop Peter from performing a miracle by saving a prophetic red-headed woman. Pearly seeks advice from Lucifer, who lives in New York’s sewers. Who plays Lucifer you ask? Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want it spoiled.
<Spoiler>The character of Lucifer is played by Will Smith. However, it looks like he just walked off the street with his gaged ears, shiny grey blazer and Jimi Hendrix T-shirt. Did I mention it’s still 1915? It’s the kind of casting move that makes you scratch your head and wonder what can happen next. Don’t worry it only gets more bizarre.<Spoiler End>
That flying horse I mentioned, is constantly referred to as a dog. Though it never appears in dog form. After the whirlwind romance of Beverly and Peter, tragedy strikes and the movie skips to modern day 2014. Peter has not aged a day in 100 years. Except, that now he looks like Jesus. Also, he has lost his memory of the events of the previous century.
Peter isn’t the only highlander in 2014. Demon Russell Crowe senses Peter and continues in his efforts to stop him from performing his destined miracle.
Okay, lets get this straight. Demons, Pegasus, time travel, immortality and a sweet love story all wrapped up in one. Makes sense. Right?
You will watch this unpredictable movie happen and keep an underlying hope that it will all be explained in the end. Well, it never is. It’s clear that Winter’s Tale is ambitious by trying to sweep you away in the magic, but an ounce of exposition would have helped. It’s the kind of movie where you despise all the people who have read the book and actually understand what’s going on.
Here’s the kicker – I didn’t hate it. I’m actually still trying to understand it. There are times when the magic in particular movies doesn’t need an intensive explanation. The actors give it their all and the underlying love story is sweet, but that’s all the positive I can really say about this movie. As a movie it just didn’t work. After all, it was written and directed by Akiva Goldsman, writer of Batman & Robin. You have to give him credit for trying this adapt this fan-favorite novel, but the end result is basically inaccessible for movie crowds. I almost want people to see this movie just so they can be as flabbergasted as I am.
Winter’s Tale is a combination of Constantine, The Neverending Story and Somewhere in Time.
If this odd synopsis does not appeal to you in the least, then you should absolutely skip it. However, if you are curious about this random disaster complete with flying horses and demons, then it’s worth a rental to satisfy your curiosity.
The original Robocop (1987) was a ridiculous ride that parodied commercialism and industry, while also being a very violent action ’80s action flick. The one-liners and camp value guarantee it a spot in your movie library in between Commando and Escape from New York.
The new Robocop follows the same general plot but attempts it by using a far different style. Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is a family man and honest cop in Detroit. While investigating a local gun smuggler he is critically injured due to a car bomb. Meanwhile, Dr. Norton (Gary Oldman) has been tasked to create a human/robot hybrid to make robot guardians more acceptable in the U.S. He works for Omnicorp, which is ran by mogul, Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton). The senate and the majority of the public opposes using robots as a police force, so Sellars comes up with the humanizing loophole to win the hearts of the voting public.
From there, Murphy is chosen for the experiment. Although no one is really able to predict the consequences when you take an emotionally-charged brain and mix it with cold, efficient hardware.
I went in to Robocop with very low expectations. It’s one of those movies that I felt didn’t need to be touched by the mediocre hand of remake-dom. The original worked because it’s so over the top in every way. This new one works because it’s not trying to redo more of the same. It is a purposeful PG-13 (to many fans’ chagrin) because it is trying to appeal to a wide audience. It succeeds. I’m pleased it didn’t add a few more F-words or gratuitous blood. It would have been overkill in an already action-packed movie.
The only comedy in the movie comes from Samuel L. Jackson’s cameo character, Pat Novak. He is the bombastic host of a Fox News/MSNBC-type show that vehemently argues for robot guardians. He is typical Samuel L. Jackson, but you don’t fault him for it. He adds necessary levity. Much like Will Smith in Winter’s Tale, it seems that they hired him for the weekend to shoot his scenes.
The reason this version of Robocop works is that it keeps Murphy human even when he is only a fraction of his former self. He only devolves into a clinical machine when Dr. Norton literally messes with his brain to eliminate any PTSD and emotion. Also, you get a chance to see what remains of Murphy without the metallic suit and the results are honestly horrific.
Robocop works great as an origin movie and I’m hopeful that there will be a sequel. I never thought I’d say that about a remake.
The original Robocop was nearly a campy ’80s grindhouse movie, whereas the new Robocop is a slick action movie. It’s nowhere near perfect. The final third is sadly rushed and a bit anticlimactic. The proverbial bow was tied a little too neatly.
If you want counter-programming this Valentine’s Day, then you should definitely see Robocop. It’s an April quality movie released in the low-quality month of February. Though, this recommendation will strictly apply to a night out with the guys or a father and son action movie night.